North Ridge of Half Moon - A Gem in the Rough
The North Ridge of Half Moon on Kangaroo Ridge receives little attention relative to its more famous neighbors at Washington Pass, which is unfortunate for this route is truly a gem in the rough. The route is high quality and one of only a few moderate routes which offers multiple pitches of consistent, technical, and steep climbing. Every pitch features thought provoking route finding and fun, interesting, and generally well protected climbing. The approach is straight forward and except for a final slog through loose scree, is quite pleasant. Seemingly much more distant, we were surprised to find Half Moon required only a half hour longer approach than South Early Winters Spire from the Blue Lake trail head.
Pitch one starts on the right side of the obvious block/pillar and has some hollow, friable rock which improves dramatically on the second pitch. Pitch two continues left before moving back right after a fixed piton. Pitch three climbs steep cracks right off the belay to easy scrambling on sandy ledges. Pitch four climbs a steep, wide chimney with excellent cracks. Pitch five is an easy scramble on the wide, flat ridge crest with spots that would make an excellent bivi. Pitch six traverses a ledge on the right side of the narrowing ridge crest with huge exposure over the west face before a few slab moves cut back left to the ridge crest. Pitch seven climbs the ridge crest for a few exposed moves to the final easy summit scramble. We climbed the route in six 50 meter pitches, as I stupidly placed a belay in the middle of the steep chimney when I should have stopped short and belayed on the comfortable sandy ledges below it. Running pitches together will create rope drag, breaking the route into 7 pitches, belaying at obvious and comfortable ledges, makes the most sense.
To descend, down climb (easy but exposed) to a two piton anchor and make a 40 meter rappel to the broad, flat ridge. Walk across the ridge and pop over to the skier's left side to a 1/4" bolt and piton anchor. Make a 50 meter rappel down the steep chimney and trend skier's left down the sandy ledges. Rappel 40 meters off of a slung horn and fixed nut anchor to a hanging rappel. Rappel 50 meters from two new 3/8" bolts to the start of the route. We removed a large pile of faded tat and replaced each anchor with new 6 mm cord. Subsequent parties could do a public service and replace this with 1" tubular webbing and rappel rings.
All in all a really fantastic climb that deserves more traffic, the previous entry in the summit register was 13 months old. More traffic would clean up the loose rock and lichen making this already great climb a true classic.